'The First National Conference on Young Performers," sponsored by
the Screen Actors Guild, took place in fall 1995 in several ballrooms
(East, West, and Grand) of the Universal Sheraton, Universal City,
California. The Universal Sheraton, I found, is just down the hill from
Universal Studios and its popular fun park. Tour buses smogged up
the steep grade before and behind me, and I wondered if people park-
ing at the hotel-I had a free pass for that-could stroll as they liked
into the exhibit area and see the acclaimed "Jurassic Park" show, the
"Psycho" house, and the real Jaws. No, they could not.
The conference invitation, which I had received for reasons I will
reveal later, contained a letter from Barry Gordon, president of the
Screen Actors Guild
describing the concerns those of us gath-
ered would be addressing. Pointing out that "the Entertainment In-
dustry is practically unique in its need for and use of minors" ("as you
are well aware"), Gordon said that these children often fared well "dur-
ing their performing experiences," but that good treatment had "not
always" been extended "to their lives outside performance." Conse-
quently, it made sense to have a conference "addressing the position of
the young performer as a professional, as a child and as a future adult."
As it turned out, nobody there, not even Gordon, thought the treat-
ment of minors during their performing experience was anything to
crow about. In the afterlife (beyond fourteen), it was neglect and
treachery all around. In fact, the young performer as child and as
future adult, and certainly the adult as ex-child performer, was en-
sconced deeply and, to me, convincingly in the role of victim. But
this is getting ahead of things.
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